Linking to learning

Picture this: Using digital cameras in your classroom

Obviously, images have great impact on how society views a subject, so it makes sense that they can make an impact in the classroom, too. By using a digital camera, teachers can take advantage of the new technology and integrate photography into their daily teaching.

Digital cameras are easy to use and, because they provide instant feedback, they are a lot of fun. Students love taking photos of each other, but once they get past that, their creative juices start to flow. Reluctant readers or struggling writers often find their voices emerging from what they capture in the camera viewfinder.

If you think you would like to integrate photography into your classroom activities, a list of resources that can help you make the experience a successful one are in bold below.

Kathy Schrock’s Guide at Discovery Education. Click Kathy Schrock’s Guide under the Featured Content tab. Then go to Teacher Helpers and click on Gadgets & Podcasting. Schrock has compiled a list of sites to help you get started.

One link that you will find helpful is to “Digital Cameras Enhance Education.” This site offers a treasure trove of practical ideas about getting started, but you can skip the information about where to buy cameras since it originates in Australia. Another good source is “Classroom Applications for the Digital Camera” that includes a tutorial on using a digital camera and a list of classroom ideas. The link for “1001 Uses for a Digital Camera” is a categorized list of ideas for the subject classroom.

If you still need help figuring out how you can use the digital camera in the classroom, go to Education World and enter the term “digital camera” in the search box and open “Smile! Digital Cameras Can Make Your Day.” This article includes descriptions of the experiences of teachers using the technology. It is full of helpful advice.

Another helpful piece about using photography to encourage writing is on the National Writing Project website and is called “Teachers Use Photo Prompts to Spark Writing.” This piece talks about teachers who have used the method to break the stranglehold of writer’s block that many students experience.

There are 628 lesson plans for digital photography on Lesson Planet that cover all aspects of the K-12 curriculum. In addition, Adobe provides teacher resources on all aspects of the imaging process. Of course, there is a bias for Adobe products like Photoshop Elements, but that shouldn’t deter you since this is one of the most popular programs for working with digital photos.

Need to buy a camera for your classroom? For an unbiased review of digital cameras, check Digital Camera Resource Page. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and Kodak have models that are in the $100 price range. Scholastic offers some advice on buying cameras, too. Enter “digital cameras” in the search box.

If you have a project in mind for next school year that requires the purchase of a few cameras, you can go to DonorsChoose and write a brief proposal to seek the funds from registered donors who may want to contribute to your project. It could take a few weeks to raise all the money. Your odds of success will improve if you are clear about what you want the students to accomplish with the cameras and then provide a detailed budget that includes the cost of the cameras.

Schools have a vital role in teaching both visual and linguistic literacy. In an increasingly image-driven society, developing visual literacy is indispensable. Digital cameras are tools that can help students develop that competency as we move deeper into the information age.

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